You get a fantastic view out through the B-Class’s huge windows which makes it a doddle to manoeuvre but other MPVs are faster and more nimble
You can get the Mercedes B-Class with a range of two petrol and three diesel engines, all of which drive the front wheels through an automatic gearbox as standard.
The most affordable B180 and B200 petrol models are perfectly happy pottering around town, but they drone quite loudly when you accelerate hard to join a motorway or overtake slow-moving traffic. Mercedes claims both will return 51mpg in normal driving conditions, but you can expect to see a figure in the high forties.
Even in AMG-Line trim, the B-Class doesn’t feel all that sporty to drive. That’s no bad thing though – after all, it’s supposed to be a comfy and practical MPV, not a hardcore sportscar
If you do plenty of longer journeys, you’ll be better off with one of the diesel engines. The 116hp B180d will feel pretty sluggish, but the B200d and B220d models with 150hp and 190hp respectively are more than happy to cruise along at motorway speeds. The B200d is impressively quiet for a diesel engine and feels punchy enough for when you need to pull out of a junction or merge with fast-moving traffic. It’ll return around 50mpg in normal driving conditions. The B220d is faster still, yet returns better fuel economy – Mercedes claims it’ll manage more than 60mpg – but it is more expensive to buy.
The entry-level diesel engine and both petrol units come with a seven-speed automatic gearbox, but the more powerful B200d and B220d get a newer eight-speed ‘box. The former isn’t particularly smooth or responsive but does help give your left leg a rest in heavy traffic. The eight-speed gearbox is a significant improvement, though. It blends gears together much more smoothly and changes down more quickly if you accelerate hard to overtake other cars.
The Mercedes B-Class’ raised seats and large windows give you an excellent view out which helps make it a doddle to drive around town. The steering’s nice and light too, which means squeezing into a tight parking space won’t take its toll on your arms.
The suspension absorbs most bumps around town but large potholes will still send a jolt through your seat. Head out onto a faster country road and you’ll find the B-Class doesn’t lean a great deal in corners so your passengers won’t have any reason to feel car sick on long journeys.
On dual carriageways and motorways you’ll hear a bit of wind and tyre noise, but no more so than in the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer and VW Golf SV. The Mercedes B-Class’ engines make very little noise when you’re cruising along too – especially in diesel form – which helps make it pretty relaxing to travel in for long periods.
You can get the B-Class with sporty lowered suspension, and even adaptive dampers that let you choose between softer and firmer setups. It’s not worth the extra cash though, and you’d be better off paying for some of the Mercedes B-Class’ driver assistance features instead.
These include the Distronic pack that’ll adjust the cruise control speed automatically when you’re approaching a bend or a junction. You don’t have to pay extra for automatic emergency braking though – this comes fitted to all Mercedes B-Class models as standard. It hasn’t been crash-tested by Euro NCAP yet, but features such as these should help make the Mercedes B-Class one of the safest small MPVs on sale.